Jovan Adepo (Fences) puts on a masterful performance in Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-hopeful Babylon. One scene, in particular, featuring Adepo will definitely spark a conversation.
The film tells the history of Hollywood’s evolution while highlighting the wild parties and drug use in the industry during its infancy in the 1920s. Adepo plays Sidney Palmer, a brilliant trumpeter who is a fixture in the huge party sequences in the film.
He makes the giant leap to films when Hollywood transitions from silent films to sound and becomes a star. In one scene, Palmer has to make a tough choice because of something he can’t control, the color of his skin. A stark reminder that reminds him and the viewers of the time this film takes in and how problematic Hollywood was for not just women, but Blacks and other people of color.
Sidney has to decide to either go through with the request or risk shutting production down on the movie, which will take money out of the pockets of his fellow co-stars.
Speaking with Cassius Life, Adepo broke down his thoughts when filming the scene.
“It was just that. I think Damien really wrote an interesting scene where everything that I needed as an actor was on the page, and it was in the moment,” Adepo begins. “We saw that conversation he had with Manny, who he came up in the industry along with. Him feeling that guilt that his friend was giving him, “Don’t you want to be able to feed these guys? You don’t want them to go home. You don’t want everybody here to be out of a job because of your not being willing to compromise.”
Adepo continued, “Compromising probably comes up in the film industry all the time. There’s a level, or there’s a threshold that everybody has that’s different for different people of what you’re willing to do in a film or show or whatever. It has to sometimes align with your morals, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Sidney Had To Make A Tough Choice
Jovan Adepo Touches On Sidney Making That choice Not To Be Selfish & Breaking Himself In The Process
“I think to be able to sit as Sidney and understand that I have a responsibility to get this film made for all of these people and to step away from being selfish, which I think thus far Sidney was just going and being like you said, a bystander of this moment. He really had to make a choice that, “I’m going to do this this one time, and after that, I’ve had enough of it, and I’ve got to walk away,” Adepo said.
“That’s, I think, the hardest thing to do as an artist. Because when the money is good, and the access and the excess, and all of these things are at your disposal. It can be hard to walk away. And from the limelight. I don’t think it’s meant for everybody.”
He continues, “I think it takes a strong person to be able to realize that they’ve had enough and to walk away. I think being broken in that way spiritually as I think Sydney did, having to put that makeup on, I think it was a moment that was too much for him.”
Babylon arrives in theaters on Dec. 23.
Photo: Scott Garfield / Babylon
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